Devastating dagger

Magicians gutted on last-second heave by Century’s Amundson

Alex Eisen/MDN Century senior Kade Amundson (42) celebrates after a foul is called on Minot High senior Lofton Klabunde (30) in a WDA semifinal game played Friday evening in Bismarck.

BISMARCK — Five seconds and the length of the court to go.

It was an opportunity for the No. 4-seeded Minot High School boys basketball team to rectify a pair of previous defeats and march into the WDA championship game with some swagger.

Instead, an unthinkable disaster unfolded.

A forced turnover in the backcourt rolled into the waiting arms of Century senior Kade Amundson. The 6-foot-6 center had made 10 3-pointers in the regular season, but nothing could have prepared him for this desperation attempt he launched at the rim.

“Out of the timeout (coach Darin) Mattern said to get big on the ball and we will try to go for the steal and, if not, foul,” Amundson said. “(Cade) Feeney had good ball pressure and went from behind. I scooped it up and looked up to see one second left. I chucked it up there and the rest is a blur.”

The basketball caught nothing but net on its way down, and Amundson was swarmed by his teammates as the final buzzer sounded.

“I would have given it a solid 40 percent (chance to go in),” Amundson said. “I have shot some threes before, but that was probably my best three for sure.”

In a matter of seconds, No. 1-seeded Bismarck Century (21-2) had avoided overtime, a possible upset and survived to win its 17th game in a row with a 68-65 victory Friday evening in the WDA semifinals at the Bismarck Event Center.

The No. 4-seeded Magicians (18-5) were left stunned.

The three-time defending state champions led for nearly the entire game, only to have victory ripped away in the final second.

MHS coach Dean Winczewski paced up-and-down the locker room hallway after the game trying to calm himself down and comprehend what just happened.

Understandably, Winczewski had no interest in reliving the nightmare.

“It’s done,” he said. “We are worrying about tomorrow. We got Mandan tomorrow and that’s all we are focused on.”

No. 3-seeded Mandan knocked off No. 2-seeded Bismarck High, 66-57, in a loser-out game Friday. Minot moves to within a loss away from not making the Class A state tournament for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Century rallied late in the second half to make that happen.

“It’s right up there, just because of what was at stake,” Century coach Darin Mattern said about where that ranks in terms of crazy finishes. “Anytime you get the chance to extend your season one more week, it’s pretty gratifying.”

Minot overcame a 9-2 deficit at the start of the game to eventually hold the largest lead of the game at 33-24 late in the first half. Then, Josh Sipes put the Patriots on his back.

Sipes, who scored a game-high 23 points, made a 3-pointer to end the first half and scored Century’s first nine points of the second half.

Minot countered with its three-point shooting, 7-for-18 in the contest.

Junior guard Alex Schimke became Minot’s go-to scorer throughout the game, as Century limited senior guard Peyton Lamoureux to just two points.

The Magi tried to expose Century’s scheme to switch every screen, which frequently got Schimke a one-on-one with Amundson at the top of the arc.

Schimke took advantage most times and finished with a team-high 21 points and he also had nine rebounds. Senior Lofton Klabunde went 7-for-8 from the field for 16 points, Jaxon Gunville chipped in nine points and Chandler Albertson had seven points.

But, Century dashed Minot’s seven-game winning streak in the final three minutes. Critical 3-pointers, defensive stops and Amundson’s heroics carried the Century to the win.

“That’s a very good, very hot basketball team right now,” Darin Mattern said about Minot. “So, we feel very fortunate to make one more play tonight.”

Minot shot 48.1 percent, while Century finished at 44.6 percent. The Patriots outrebounded Minot, 38-27.

Treyton Mattern (16 points), Amundson (12), Feeney (11) also finished in double figures with Sipes (23) for Century.

The Patriots take on No. 6-seeded Jamestown in the WDA championship game. Minot’s state qualifier with Mandan is at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon at the Bismarck Event Center.

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.